Any celebration requires preparation: the guests invited, the table set, the turkey stuffed, the presents bought, the tree trimmed. While proper preparation does not guarantee the success of a celebration, lack thereof makes it unlikely. In today’s Gospel, St. John the Baptist, a key Advent figure, makes his first appearance. He is the Preparer, the Herald, the Friend of the Bridegroom, and his message is simple: “Get ready, prepare.” The people are to prepare by receiving “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Those who do become receptive, ready for the Word as John was; those who do not or only receive the exterior washing without interior repentance are not ready for the Messiah and are closed to Him when He comes.
How many times do we miss the call to conversion given to us through our sisters or our brothers or the prophets of our time and so miss the coming of the Lord? In this Year of Mercy, may we hear the call to conversion and repent of our sins that we may be prepared to receive Mercy.